Happy Bitcoin Pizza Day! But don’t think about the fees

Happy Pizza Day! And this year, please make mine extra spicy. Yes, it’s May 22 again, the day all Bitcoiners celebrate by ordering a pizza. Any pizza is good, but to make it special you’ll need to buy it with Bitcoin—don’t make the mistake of using BTC these days though, because at the time of writing the average transaction fee on the BTC network is US$6.28.

What is Pizza Day and why is it significant?

Today is actually the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin Pizza Day. It’s significant because it marks the first (or at least, the first documented) purchase of real-world goods with Bitcoin. Before then, mining and transacting with Bitcoin was largely a hobbyist pursuit, so the purchase proved that Bitcoin could have a real-world dollar value. This in turn sent a price signal to the nascent “market” for Bitcoin, and became the first benchmark for BTC value. The rest, as they say, is history.

On May 18, 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz of Jacksonville, Florida, posted on the Bitcoin Talk forums:

“I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day.  I like having left over pizza to nibble on later.  You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy!”

It took a few days to finally get a taker—user “jercos” (Jeremy Sturdivant) ordered two large pizzas from Papa John’s for delivery to Hanyecz’s home, paid in USD and collected the 10,000 BTC. The pizzas themselves cost US$41.

You can see photos of the now-famous Bitcoin pizzas here.

Technically, Hanyecz didn’t buy the pizzas directly for Bitcoin so you could say the price included Sturdivant’s service fee. Since the Bitcoin price in May 2010 was officially $0, he did take on a $41 risk.

As we now know, that risk paid off—the current market value of BTC is $9053, meaning either owner of the 10,000 coins would now have US$90,530,000. If BTC’s all-time-high price stands at $19,891 then 10,000 coins would’ve been worth $198,910,000. Had they kept those coins in time for the two forks that shifted Bitcoin protocol development to BCH and finally to Bitcoin SV (BSV), it would be millions more.

Only BSV now is Bitcoin according to the Satoshi Nakamoto whitepaper and the original protocol, and 10,000 BSV is currently US$1,915,900.

Million-dollar pizzas, but value is priceless

Yes, that’s an expensive pair of pizzas (for pedantic reasons, remember it was two large pizzas instead of the single “198 million dollar pizza” often mentioned in the media). Naturally, Hanyecz often finds himself in demand for a quote on whether he regrets his purchase. He’s on the record as saying he doesn’t at all, since his move kickstarted the Bitcoin economy. Had he not sent those 10,000 coins, and had no-one else taken the plunge either, Bitcoin’s value could still be $0 today.

It’s a sign that, unless people are willing to take risks and do something to give Bitcoin value, it doesn’t have any. What if Hanyecz had abided by BTC’s “HODL” mentality, or cared about all the people who called him crazy over the years, reminding him of his (theoretically) lost millions?

Most people who’ve been in the Bitcoin community for many years have “Bitcoin Pizza” stories of their own to tell. This writer likes to show off his “thousand dollar” Bitcoin keychain; everyone hates to be reminded of how much money they’d have now if they’d never spent those coins.

But again, if no one had ever spent Bitcoin then the value of Bitcoin would be $0. Bitcoin only has value if it’s used in the real world. And thanks to the people who invested time, effort and money building user-friendly services so more people could use Bitcoin, that value has increased even more over time.

Think about all that next time you hear someone say “HODL” (ie: save your Bitcoins, don’t spend them). HODLing creates no value whatsoever. BTC wouldn’t even have speculative-gambling value if no-one sold them, and that’s about the only utility BTC has nowadays. If you know any committed BTC HODLers, remind them how much that $6.28 transaction fee they just paid could be worth at some random point in the future. That’s extra spicy.

BSV, on the other hand, recognizes real-world usage as the main value driver and its people build services that aim to solve real-world problems. The large-volume, low-fee model is creating a global immutable ledger for enterprises, and yet remains cheap enough to send individual transactions for cents, or much less.

But enough of that—Happy Pizza Day once again, and enjoy the food!

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